The Church is in dire need of God’s intervention so that it can be elevated to the height from which it has fallen over time. This is necessary if the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which the Church is the custodian, will make a difference in the world today. If the Church will be elevated, every believer must take a more intense and careful look at what the Bible says about the early church, particularly in Acts 2:41-47. A study of the passage will prick the conscience of the modern-day Church but it is needed for divine elevation to the height destined for the Church by God (Revelation 2:1-5).
This morning, we want to consider the fourth thing that the early believers were devoted to, that is, prayer. The early believers were a people who persevered in prayer, and, by this, we mean church prayer, united prayer involving the whole body of believers. This should not come to us as a surprise since they had in their midst the Apostles whom Jesus taught to pray. Dr. Luke wrote about it in Luke 11:1-2. But what did the disciples see in the prayers of Jesus that they lacked? One, it was the personal relationship, Son to Father, to Abba, Daddy.
Two, His prayers were effective and made a difference. After Jesus died, was buried, rose again and ascended into heaven, we find his followers praying (Acts 1:14). As Christ instructed, they went back to Jerusalem and waited. And prayed for days. Let us look at some of the powerful prayer moments in Acts that show how devoted the early believers were to prayer. First, they decided to fill the position left empty by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and death only after they had prayed (Acts 1:24-26). Second, when the political leaders harassed and persecuted them, they prayed—but not for the trouble to end (Acts 4:29).
Third, prayer was a priority for the Apostles. They wouldn’t let the enemy distract them (Acts 6:3-4). Fourth, Stephen prayed as the stones rained down on him (Acts 7:59-60). Fifth, Peter prayed before healing Dorcas (Acts 9: 39-40). Sixth is Peter’s deliverance from prison through the prayer of the believers (Acts: 12:12-16). Seventh, the Apostles prayed, even in prison (Acts 16:25). Eighth, Acts records this prayerful goodbye in Ephesus (Acts 20:36-37).
Ninth, Paul said grace before the last meal on a sinking ship (Acts 27:34-35). After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all.” When we compare the prayer life of the Church today with that of the early believers, we may be tempted to beat our chest and declare that we pray more than they did. But, can we honestly claim that we receive more answers to our prayers than they did? It is my considered view that we cannot honestly make that claim. The reasons for this situation are not far-fetched. In the first place, the Church today is a mixed multitude that is made up of believers and unbelievers; saved and unsaved persons; those who have faith in God and those who do not have faith in God. The implication of this is that believers today do not agree on the subjects of their prayers to God (Matthew 18:19-20). Secondly, many believers today live in disobedience or open rebellion against God. No amount of sacrifices made in prayer can compensate for open rebellion against God. Third, failure to repent from sin and turn away from unrighteousness characterize the lives of many believers today (Isaiah 58; 59). Fourth, shallow knowledge of the Word of God prevents today’s believers from receiving answers to their prayers from God (Acts 4:18-31; Psalm 2:1-2). Five, today’s believers are selfish in their requests and do not seek what will bring glory to God or blessings to men (Matthew 6:25-33; James 4:1-3).